United v Fulham Preview
After the glory of a win at Stamford Bridge, a win that has put us in the driving seat with regards to qualification for the last for of the Champions League, we face another side from West London this Saturday. Fulham are the opposition when they travel to Old Trafford for a Premier League game. It`s a fixture United must, and should win, to further cement their chances of regaining the Premier League trophy they lost to Chelsea last season.
Missing from the starting eleven will be Wayne Rooney with the two match ban handed out to him being viewed as harsh prompting the man himself to remark after hearing the appeal had not been successful,
"I am gutted to miss two matches, one of which is an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley."
"I am not the first player to have sworn on TV ad I won`t be the last."
Very harsh indeed and we can only wonder if a precedent has been set!
Manchester United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson will need to be shrewd with his team selection this weekend. Deprived of Wayne Rooney and Jonny Evans, thanks to suspensions handed out by the Football Association, Sir Alex will also be mindful of the fact that the return leg of the Champions League Quarter-Final is on Tuesday evening.
Is Rio Ferdinand up to playing two matches in quick succession or will he be rested thereby giving Chris Smalling the chance to play against his former club.
Will Rafael have recovered from the knock that saw him substituted on Wednesday night?
Can Darren Fletcher shake off the illness that has seen him missing for several fixtures?
All are very pertinent questions.
Up front we expect Dimitar Berbatov to come in for the suspended Rooney and we`d expect Nani and Valencia to play wide to stretch the opposition but we wouldn`t be at all surprised if Sir Alex shuffled his pack and made four or five changes to the side that served us so well in West London on Wednesday night.
As for the boss, he`ll be watching the action from the stands as he continues to serve the five game ban imposed by the authorities.
Player to watch: Edwin van der Sar
Tipped by many to be in with a chance of winning the Football Writer`s Player of the Year, the Dutchman won`t be appearing at Old Trafford too many more times before he retires. Take a chance to watch a master of his trade in action!
Fulham Team News:
Mark Hughes, despite having been the manager of the other lot in this city, will get a fine reception as he leads his Fulham team out at Old Trafford this Saturday. The United legend, in his first season as Fulham boss, has stabilized what appeared to be a rocky-ship earlier this season.
In recent weeks he`s been, once again, able to call upon the services of Bobby Zamora who has now fully recovered from a bad leg injury that kept him out for a considerable time.
Fulham have had a very settled squad in recent weeks and coming to Old Trafford we don`t believe they`ll veer to much from a starting eleven that could possibly resemble the following:-
Schwarzer, Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido, Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Demspey, Zamora, Dembele
Player to watch: Bobby Zamora
Back from a bad injury, Zamora got back to scoring ways last weekend when he scored a brace against Blackpool, the first being particularly impressive. His scoring exploits earned him an England call-up before the injury curtailed his progress, definitely one to watch on Saturday
Match Facts & Stats
The record books are a little confusing for this one.
Apparently we`ve not beaten Fulham in our last four Premier League games but on the other hand Fulham have not beaten us at Old Trafford since October 2003
Mark Jones is the official in charge.
Fulham`s poor away record and our impressive home record, lead me to believe that, on paper, the three points should be comfortably ours. But it has been a crazy season and it wouldn`t surprise me in the slightest if this game was far more competitive than it looks to be on paper. A lot will depend on the eleven Sir Alex chooses although whichever eleven do start you can be sure they will have been reminded of their responsibilities by the gaffer before the game starts. Despite my slight apprehension, I`m still going for a United win, 3-1!
We welcome Chelsea Football Club on Tuesday evening for the conclusion of our Champions League quarter-final tie.